In the past few months we’ve been chatting with musicians on Twitter, every week we start a thread about the different aspects in the life of an independent musician, but no thread caught fire like this one:
The comments on this thread were pure inspiration!
As an independent musician, you always need to find creative ways to transform your limited resources into amazing pieces of content.
Music videos are cornerstone content, but without the know-how, a big budget or a labels' help many musicians end up not filming them.
That’s not the way to go! Music videos are a powerful tool to connect with your audience and expand your reach.
Why are music videos so important you ask?
"Sound is important but it is just one element, If you put video to it, that changes the context of the music. It gives it an extra dimension. Also, people are more inclined to click on stuff that is visual.” - Simon Keene
Your music video is another side of your art - adding a visual layer to your music.
Social video generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined.
More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day. Why not tap into that with your amazing new clip? (Not sold yet? check more insane YouTube statistics here)
Major streaming services like Spotify create video centric features and they make an impact! Using Spotifys’ canvas feature increased streams by up to 120% and saves by up to 114%, in addition to lifts in artist profile visits and shares.
Now that you understand why making a music video is critical, It’s time to step up your video making game.
We had the pleasure to chat with 4 artists that went full independent and scored big.
So get your learning mode on - because from now on it’s all essential knowledge :)
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Space Chimney is the creation of a married couple from Long Island, New York. Our style is heavily sensitive to rock and electronic sounds, and chases the melancholic nostalgia of Vaporwave. Working with a mixture of live instrumentation, vocals and samples - we take inspiration from all genres to emotionally and digitally melt them into something new.
My name is Guillaume Blj a.k.a Atlas Castle. I’m a French musician, composer and electronic music producer, today based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Long sleepless nights, skills and a certain vision of aesthetics brought this project to life with the idea to create a musical base throughout which I could play whatever I would feel like, without any boundaries.
My name is Jeffrey Chan and I'm a singer/songwriter/producer from Sydney, Australia - and I just released my brand new EP 'FaultLine: AfterShock' on Fri 13 December 2019. My musical style falls into the overall general category of pop, but takes influences from a wide range of other genres (RnB, synthpop, dance, contemporary). Inspirations to my music include artists like Britney Spears, Lady Gaga to The Killers, Michael Buble, David Bowie, Zedd, and Calvin Harris. My sound can be best described as an amalgamation of pop influences and inspirations from the past 20-30 years mixed with modern songwriting/production techniques.
My name is Simone Silvestroni aka Minutes To Midnight, I’m originally from Italy, I’ve been living in the UK for the last ten years. My own music is currently in the rock/alternative rock genre, though in the past I have worked with many diverse styles. My next album will likely be more oriented towards a sophisticated (but not too much) pop-electronica.
My greatest inspirations are the 1973-1983 Pink Floyd, representing a legacy from my past listening choices, and Lana Del Rey.
You went full independent in your latest music clip, can you tell us about the creative process behind it?
Space Chimney - “System Bonanza”
The creative process behind this video was chaotic. It was our first music video, and we gave ourselves a hard and short deadline to get it completed. It started more systematic than creative, and also a little backwards.
We know we only have X, Y, and Z to work with - so what will be the best way to utilize them?
With the feel of the music in mind, we skimmed through roughly five thousand videos from cell phones, old art school projects and everything in between that we had saved up on hard drives. Anything that seemed to fit visually to the music got put into a SOURCE folder for our music video project.
Once we had our mess of files, we fired up a new After Effects project and started to throw things at the timeline to see where things went. The creative process then began to be about shaping a narrative and flow from a large amount of unrelated footage. This relied heavily on the processing and blending that we used to fuse the disparate clips together.
One problem we ran into was that all this footage we had was shot on different cameras, different resolutions, white balances and sizes.
To help jell these varying elements together, we used used a similar video layer to overlay on top of most of the timeline. This layer was footage of colorful screen banding (filming a computer monitor up close and focusing on the pixel distortions that occur). This helped to get all of our different footage to live in “the same world”.
Atlas Castle - “Dust”
Back then I was clearly in a phase where I realized that I was automatically jamming and reworking my songs over and over again with loops in a really electronic, dark and danceable way. “Dust” definitely had to be my next move and became the reason to start a whole new branding and visual approach
Simone Silvestroni - “Love Field”
Since the whole album is a concept revolving around a real-life story, I wanted “Love Field” to represent the human side of the day JFK was assassinated. Although I consumed a ton of content about it (both factual and not), I’m not interested in any politics around the event. The focal point of the song is this idea of a flight of fancy, imagining to be there, feeling what people in the crowd were feeling, or being in the motorcade, or even being close to the killer. And still, fantasizing about a different ending.
Jeffrey Chan - “Tell Me The Truth”
With all my music clips, I work independently from pre-production (conceptualizing the clip) through to directing and all the way down to editing.
Luckily, I've always worked together with one of my best friends (Nick), on creating concepts and helping me shoot the videos themselves. Usually when I'm writing new music, I have an idea of what the video clip would look like. For 'Tell Me The Truth', I wanted to let the music do the talking, so after doing some location scouting, we hired out a studio set and filmed a very 'conceptual'/metaphorical video. A lot of this clip was going to come together in post-production/editing, with the special effects.
How did you conceptualize the idea of the music clip?
"Everyone has their own way of generating concepts and what is going to work for them. That being said, experimentation is vital to figure out what works best for you." - Space Chimney
Usually as I write a song, I get a good general idea of whether it'll be a single and whether it'll have a music video. For songs that usually end up having a music video, I have a very clear concept from the get go. Whether I take a line and draw inspiration from that or I take a theme and build a world/story around that (see Breathe Heavy)
I didn’t, really. I’m not great with visualizing things beforehand. I know it sounds strange for someone who just wrote a concept album, but I’m strictly talking about images. In particular, video. Usually, if I’m the one who’s doing a video, I start with having a very rough idea. I tend to focus my attention on the main theme of the song, the essential concept. From there, I can slowly work around the before and after. In this case, I talked to Silvia and we decided to put the crowds at the very centre of the clip. The common people. That’s why I feel like the end result is exceptional: even when JFK and Jackie are exchanging greetings at the airport, or waving in the streets, the women, men and children around them are the real focal point.
I wanted to convey the stark contrast between the popularity of this couple and the senseless assassination that followed.
We conceptualized the idea from first focusing on the feel of the track. To us, the worlds that immediately come to mind are: transient, ethereal and movement. Since we didn’t shoot footage specifically for this video, we already knew we had to take a more abstracted angle to the narrative.
One common theme of the footage was that it was mostly personal to both our lives, since it was a collection from the time we met each other. While we didn’t intend for the video to be about us, it does represent our journey and path to how we got here. That is something we tried to express without making it too personal.
We think it’s important to note that this stage of the process is something that is going to be unique and personal to each creator. Everyone has their own way of generating concepts and what is going to work for them. That being said, experimentation is vital to figure out what works best for you.
I guess I wanted to try things out and experiment. I wanted the outcomes to be more virtual, abstract, a little epic and overall electronic.
What tools / skills you used in the creation of the video?
Computer: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016), 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7,16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
File management and organization - this is something that got overlooked for many years that led to A LOT of unfinished work. Finished projects have hundreds and sometimes thousands of assets. The last thing you want to waste your time doing is trying to find something. It also becomes daunting to work around a mess and hard to concentrate. Label, color code, place and name things properly. You don’t need to be a perfectionist about this, but you need to make it workable for you. Also - keep a copy of every asset in your project folder in case you need to open it in the future. Unlinked and missing assets can be a major problem to replace!
Basic Video Editing Knowledge - Our knowledge of editing really isn’t anything spectacular. While there are lots and lots of tiny little buttons in After Effects, there are only a few we used to get this result. We’d like to note that we only used After Effects because we are the most familiar with the program workflow. We made a handy After Effects cheat sheet just for Mysphera:
I started the whole process with my Canon 7D to film random landscapes from Copenhagen. I then used the Glitché app from the Apple store to render my footage in an abstract, virtual and glitchy way. I then edited and clipped the whole video with Final Cut Pro.